Why a Massage Is Money Well Spent

Photo (cc) by Tara Angkor Hotel

I had three massages in eight days. The circumstances were unusual and will likely never be repeated. But for a while, I knew how the super-rich must feel: really relaxed.

Usually I try for an appointment once a month, but in this case, I had some social-buying vouchers that would’ve expired while I was on an extended trip. These one-hour visits cost $35 apiece. My other frugal hack is to buy five-session packages at New Seattle Massage, which winds up being $97 for 90 minutes.

Maybe it doesn’t sound frugal to spend $97, or even $35, on something nonessential. But the money comes out of the “treats” section of my budget. Some people do dinners out, shopping trips, basketball games, fine wine. I do bodywork. Besides, for me it is essential (more on that later).

A cost of doing business

Back when I was really broke and working some fairly physical jobs, I used to ignore the way my body felt. As physical and emotional stress built, pain would suffuse the shoulder I’d injured in a long-ago car accident. Lower-back spasms bent me at a 45-degree angle. My jaws clenched tighter than a Main Line matron’s.

Eventually I’d deteriorate to the point where I could no longer lift my arms – never a good thing, and particularly inconvenient for someone who, among other things, had to clean an apartment building each week.

At that time, I was slowly sinking into credit card debt due to an ongoing divorce. I tried to put every cent I could against the balance, which was like trying to melt a glacier with a cigarette lighter.

But if I couldn’t lift my arms, I couldn’t keep my jobs. So I’d reluctantly scrape $35 or $40 away from debt repayment and pay for an hour of bodywork at a local massage school or any place offering a deal. The relief was so profound that I would wonder why I didn’t do it more often.

I guess I thought debt trumped pain.

Table for one

Now I know better. Massage is preventive medicine. It increases circulation and helps reduce anxiety and pain. Practitioners have given me tips on stretching, basic body mechanics, and improving my workstation.

If you’ve never had this, I urge you to give it a try. Those lucky enough to live in areas with massage schools may find excellent deals. If not, then find yourself a reputable business that hires licensed massage therapists – and watch for coupons and social-buy deals.

For me, massage is the chance to let everything go. I stop thinking. I float. It’s kind of like meditation except that while I do it, a licensed professional is working out all the ugly spots in my muscles.

Afterwards, I’m simultaneously relaxed and energized. Massage reminds me that I actually live in my body. To me, that beats the hell out of shopping sprees or courtside seats. Frugality means saving where I can so I can spend where I want – in this case, on a massage table.

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